Save A Lot: Successful completion of business recapitalization

Walmart: Sales rose rapidly in stores and online in recent weeks

US: As panic buying & foot traffic decline, basket sizes continue to grow
For the week ending March 28 - and for the second consecutive week - shoppers continued making fewer trips to grocery and drug stores across the United States, while spending more per visit, compared with the week ending March 14 and with the same period in 2019, according to shopper intelligence firm Catalina Marketing. Total sales dollars per store continued to be up by an average of 13% versus the year-ago period. Meanwhile, the number of shopping trips fell by 13% compared with the same period in 2019, even as the amount spent per visit grew by 31% over the prior year.

Walmart's U.S. sales jump 20% in recent weeks
Walmart Inc. sales rose rapidly in stores and online in recent weeks as shoppers, worried about the spread of coronavirus, rushed to stockpile water, face masks and canned goods before shifting their focus to necessities for a prolonged stretch at home. Walmart sales from its over 4,700 U.S. stores increased nearly 20% over the past four weeks compared with the same period last year, according to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Sales on rose over 30% over the past eight weeks. Downloads of Walmart's online grocery mobile app skyrocketed.

US Foods provides distribution support to retailers nationwide
Foodservice distributor US Foods Holding Corp. has formed about 20 retail distribution partnerships with national grocery store chains, wholesale grocers and consumer packaged goods brands, temporarily reassigning more than 700 US Foods distribution associates to warehouse roles such as selectors who choose product for shipping and truck drivers who deliver product directly to a retailer’s distribution center or retail location. As well as these new distribution partnerships, Rosemont, Illinois-based US Foods is selling product to retailers across the United States as they work to maintain inventory in the face of skyrocketing consumer demand.

US: Save A Lot announces successful completion of business recapitalization
Save A Lot, a U.S. discount grocer, announced the successful completion of a comprehensive recapitalization of the business and significant deleveraging of the Company’s balance sheet. Under the terms of the agreement, which was supported unanimously by all constituents, the Company has completed debt-for-equity and debt-for-debt exchanges that eliminated ~$500mln in debt and provided an infusion of $350mln in new capital from a combination of new and existing lenders to support the Company’s operations and acceleration of its transformation plan.

US: Walmart, Kroger, Hy-Vee go with one-way aisles to combat coronavirus
Walmart, The Kroger Co. and Hy-Vee are instituting one-way aisles and limits on customer count in stores as grocery retailers nationwide augment initiatives to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This week, Walmart started one-way movement through aisles at an undisclosed number of stores, with shoppers being guided by floor markers and direction from associates. “We expect this to help more customers avoid coming into close contact with others as they shop”, Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Walmart U.S., said in a blog post on the company’s latest social distancing measures.

Egypt: Carrefour expands e-shopping teams on higher demand
Carrefour Egypt has expanded the teams of online shopping to meet the higher demand witnessed since coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, according to a press release. This step came after demand volume through online channels enlarged six times above the average. Therefore, Carrefour Egypt has appointed more employees for the e-shopping services team, in addition to adding a whole team for offering services via mobile phones. The company also increased the e-shopping team to serve 24 hours, through two shifts.

Germany: Metro withdraws outlook on coronavirus woes
German retailer Metro withdrew its guidance for the financial year 2019/20 due to expected negative impact of the coronavirus on sales and earnings in the second half of the year. Restrictions on the movement of people due to more stringent policies designed to contain the virus, have impacted demand, it said. Metro said that it cannot provide an outlook for the year, given the uncertainties about when the crisis will be contained.

New Zealand: New online supermarket emerges to provide lockdown supplies
A new online supermarket has launched to cater to New Zealanders during the Covid-19 lockdown. Service Foods, a supplier for restaurants around the country, has launched Service Foods Home. The grocery wholesaler has initially launched in Auckland with expanding to other centres over the next month. Service Foods Director Aneil Balar said the company had been wanting to launch an online supermarket for a long time.

Poland: Eurocash Group to employ more than 2,000 people
Polish retailer Eurocash Group has announced plans to employ more than 2,000 people in its stores, warehouses and distribution centres amid an outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. The company aims to hire people for checkout counters, delivery services, unloading of supplies and forklift service. Member of Eurocash Group management board Katarzyna Kopaczewska said: “Our employees and customers - the owners of independent grocery stores - are doing everything to provide millions of Poles with access to food. In the current conditions, our priority is to ensure the health and safety of employees. We also support our clients on an ongoing basis in implementing best practices”.

Taiwan: FamilyMart plans 220-230 new stores
Familymart Taiwan is aiming to open 220-230 new stores in the territory this year, as the Japanese convenience-store chain franchise emerges unaffected by the coronavirus turmoil. The firm’s takings in this year’s first financial quarter are anticipated to rise 8.4% year-on-year to NT$19.71bln (US$652.3mln). FamilyMart Taiwan reported net earnings of NT$1.83bln ($60.56mln) last year. The franchise has suffered minimal fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, with only a low percentage of its earnings derived from operations in Mainland China.

India: BigBasket starts deliveries with cab aggregators and restaurant associations, Grofers also faces shortage of staff
Online grocery delivery platforms BigBasket and Grofers are facing scarcity of operational staff due to the coronavirus outbreak in India. To meet the increasing demands that are in result of the nationwide lockdown and cope with the shortage of delivery partners, BigBasket has started working with third-parties such as cab aggregators and restaurant associations. Grofers has also called applications for operational workers.

Supermarkets in Ireland boosted by record demand for groceries
Latest figures from Kantar show the Irish grocery market experienced its busiest ever period over the 12 weeks to 22 March 2020 - increasing year-on-year sales by 10.1%. Meanwhile, growth in the four weeks to 22 March was nearly three times higher, with shopper spend up 27%, making March the biggest month of grocery sales ever recorded. David Berry, Managing Director at Kantar, commented: “Looking at our food choices, items with a longer shelf life saw the biggest uplift, as sales of frozen and ambient foods, meaning those that can be stored at room temperature, increased by 32%. By comparison, demand for fresh food has been more modest - growing by 16% over the last four weeks. While we’d expect sales to remain strong in the coming weeks and months, there will likely be a rebalancing of sales of fresh and non-perishable items as shoppers with full freezers and cupboards replenish fresh supplies”.

China: Alibaba promises ‘spring thunder’ to support SMEs during the coronavirus crisis
Alibaba group chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang has launched the “2020 Spring Thunder Initiative” to help small and medium businesses ride out the coronavirus pandemic. “We will … create new supply chains, stimulate new demand, and promote new trade through a series of aggressive measures”, he promised in a letter to staff. Zhang says Alibaba will work to help export-focused SMEs expand into new markets through AliExpress, Lazada and Tmall World, offering some companies resource support, fee reductions and fast-track processing to help them transform and develop their business in China.

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